USES.—Both species are used medicinally in the Philippines and both enjoy high repute. A variety of the first that seems to possess the same virtues is the V.
repens, Blanco, called lagundig̃ gapag̃ by the Tagalos.
V. trifolia is regarded in India as the most powerful species and Bontius has extolled it highly, calling attention to the anodyne, diuretic and emmenagogue properties of the leaves. These are very effective applied in fomentation to rheumatic joints and their use is extensive both in India and the Malay Archipelago. A decoction of the leaves is used locally and as a vapor-bath in the treatment of beriberi. A large earthen pot is filled with leaves and water and brought to a boil; the pot is then placed under a chair in which the patient sits enveloped in a sheet or blanket. If necessary the pot may be removed 2 or 3 times, heated and replaced until abundant sweating is induced. An apparatus to conduct the steam under the chair would be much handier, but it is unsafe to place a small stove or lamp under the chair for fear of setting fire to the cloth.
In India and the Philippines there is a peculiar inflammation localized in the soles of the feet and characterized by an intense burning rather than pain, not described in the textbooks, but called by the natives “burning of the feet” (“quemadura del pié” or “ignipedites”); in our own experience and according to the consensus of the physicians of India, the application of these leaves 3 or 4 times a day to the soles of the feet has afforded marked relief. The leaves are heated in an earthen pot without the addition of water, and when sufficiently hot are applied and held in place by a bandage.
Dr. W. Ingledew states that the natives of Mysore (south of India) treat rheumatism and febrile catarrhs by steam baths of the decoction of vitex. A decoction of the leaves is in common use in the Philippines, Malay Islands and India as a bath for women in the puerperal state.
The dry leaves are smoked for headache and catarrh. According to creditable authority the application of the heated leaves in orchitis produces good results.
The root is tonic, febrifuge and expectorant and the fruit nervine and emmenagogue according to the Sanscrit writer.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—V. trifolia is a small tree, 3–4 meters high. The fruit and leaves are said to emit the odor of rosemary. Leaves ternate. Leaflets oval, entire, hoary below, no secondary petioles. Flowers purplish in forked panicle.
Corolla bell-shaped with palate. The lower lip 3-lobed, the middle lobe larger; upper lip smaller, 2-lobed. Stamens 4, free, didynamous. Ovary free. Style simple, with stigma-bearing lobules. Berry-like drupe, with 4-celled nut, one seed in each cell.
HABITAT.—Common on the seashore. Blooms in June.
The V. Negundo is a small tree like the preceding, but when it grows in the forest it develops to a tree of the first order, yielding a valuable building wood called molave (Sp.) or more properly molawin. Leaves compound with 5 leaflets.
Secondary petioles short. Flowers in dichotomous panicle. Fruit like that of the foregoing species.
Vitex trifolia, L. (V. repens, Blanco.) NOM. VULG.—Lagundi, Tag.; Gapasgapas, Vis.; Dangla, Iloc.
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